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"Take it or leave it. I took it, though."
3 stars
Jaycie says... "Upon learning that Jonathan Tropper's hilarious novel This is Where I Leave You was taking to the big screen, I immediately got worried. This past summer hasn't been a great one for book adaptations (*cough* The Giver *cough*) or stories about middle-aged Jewish men who need a reality check (*cough* Wish I Was Here *cough*). Thankfully, despite the inevitable difficulties of translating an inner monologue-heavy book to celluloid, this film manages to give its highly marketable cast some solid material. The result is a pleasant fall popcorn flick, although you would miss out on little by reading the book and skipping its film version entirely." (more)
"Raising a kid alone can be scary as hell."
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT FANTASTIC FEST 2014: I love kids, at least from the perspective of being an uncle; I fear that as an actual parent, I would identify far too much with certain parts of "The Babadook" to be much of a good person, let alone parent. There's no mistaking that this is one of those horror movies where the monster is inspired by specific fears and nightmares, but it's also one where the specificity of its metaphor doesn't hurt it being scary at all." (more)
"In which amateur entomology is the more conventional hobby."
5 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT FANTASTIC FEST 2014: It's tempting to interpret the characters' behavior in "The Duke of Burgundy" in terms of closets and shame; it's sort of the default for this period and would probably be a fascinating way to play it. Peter Strickland has other, potentially more striking directions to go instead, and certainly makes it memorable." (more)
"Another entertaining hour and a half of broken bones and faces."
3 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT FANTASTIC FEST 2014: Marko Zaror and Ernesto Diaz Espinoza hadn't made a movie together in five years before re-teaming for "Redeemer", and it's kind of nice to see that the formula hasn't really changed: Zaror plays a character that is not just an almost unstoppable force, but colorful besides, and the scenes between him dismantling waves of villains are generally more entertaining and stylish that you might expect from this sort of basic martial-arts action movie coming from an unusual spot like Chile. There's not much rust." (more)
"Marriage going downhill."
5 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT FANTASTIC FEST 2014: Danger lurks constantly in "Force Majeure", although it's seldom the life-and-limb variety as opposed to the family-falling-apart one. Impressive, given the sheer volume of explosions being set off to cause controlled avalanches. The obvious reminder that there is no such thing serves as the basic premise of the film, and you're not going to see it presented on screen much better." (more)
"Fine woodsy horror - scout's honor."
5 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT FANTASTIC FEST 2014: "Cub" (or "Welp", as it is called in its native Belgium) initially seems premised on the sort of attitude that makes those who aren't into horror movies rightfully squeamish: That if killing college kids who go out into the woods doesn't get a rise out of the audience any more, maybe killing cub scouts will. The good news in this case is twofold: One, filmmaker Jonas Govaerts does have more on his mind than cheap exploitation when all is said and done; and two, he and co-writer Roel Mondeaers are coming up with great horror movie bits from minute one." (more)
"A nifty movie about... Ah, decide for yourself."
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT FANTASTIC FEST 2014: Krzysztof Skonieczny seems to want the audience to assume the worst in "Hardkor Disco", although he and co-writer Robert Bolesto are very careful not to tip us off completely as to what it all means. Which, combined with the very precise way that Skonieczny goes about putting it together, it's got the potential to be a great "no, this is what's really going on!" movie." (more)
"Enough Is Never Enough"
4 stars
Peter Sobczynski says... "Although Terry Gilliam is still one of the most divisive filmmakers working today--depending on who you talk to, he is either a visionary genius of a singularly uncompromising nature or a muddled storyteller who jam-packs his films with elaborate visual flourishes to compensate for his inability to present a coherent narrative--it is generally accepted that the high-water mark of his career to date was "Brazil," his mind-blowing 1985 epic of an ordinary man trying to find love, freedom and meaning to his existence in a grimly dystopian near-future in which the only true escape is into his imagination that would go on to become a cult favorite and an influence on any number of filmmakers over the years. As it turns out, Gilliam himself seems to have been one of those influenced by it because his latest effort, "The Zero Theorem," is another sci-fi freakout that owes more than a slight debt to the earlier film. While the end result may lack the bold originality of the director's best work, there is still much to be astonished by here as Gilliam demonstrates once again that even a second-tier effort of his features more creativity, style, ambition and energy than the top-shelf works of most other filmmakers that you or I could name." (more)
"It's Not That Funny, Is It?"
4 stars
Peter Sobczynski says... "It was just about exactly twenty years to the day that I write these words that I first met Kevin Smith and encountered his 1994 filmmaking debut "Clerks" when both appeared at the Chicago International Film Festival. If I were to have told him then that he would conclude his first score of years as a director with a project like his latest effort, "Tusk," he would have no doubt thought that I was insane. Then again, if he were to have told me that very same thing, I would have likely had the same reaction to this ultra-bizarre horror-comedy that attempts to messily fuse his highly verbose and beyond scatological dialogue with a premise so gruesomely outrageous that it pretty much defies any sort of rational explanation. The end result is a film that is generally grotesque, oftentimes ridiculous and almost inevitably uneven but at the same time, it does contain moments of grim horror and inspired comedy and two unexpectedly strong performances that help to keep things moving along evan as it threatens to crumble under the weight of its own craziness." (more)
"A young adult adventure minus all motivation."
3 stars
Jay Seaver says... "There have been action movie more aggressively stripped of the basic building blocks of story - like character background and motivation - than "The Maze Runner", but the better ones are either trying to make some point about basic human nature or engage in some criticism of their genre. Here, it's the generic anonymity of a video game, with player proxies, tasks to accomplish, and the promise of information as a reward. That's all good for as far as it goes; it just doesn't go very far." (more)

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